09-01-2011 09:03 PM
Mimi hit the power button on the remote with a desultory click. The flat-screen went dark, taking the closing credits of Once More with Feeling with it. Poor Buffy and Spike. She cast a resigned glance at her iPod speaker dock on her table. The device clicked on as Mimi caught sight of her reflection in her elegant free standing mirror, a treasured item she inherited from her French grandmother, the first Mimi. The opening bars of Stuck in the Middle seeped into the room, and her mind. It had all come down to this, she thought as she ran a slim hand through her extremely short, disarrayed pixie cut, which was currently dark brown with a fuchsia streak above her left temple.
Six months ago her hair had flowed halfway down her back, a smooth, silken sheet of molten chocolate. That had been before the seizure, which lead to the fall and the MRI. That is when they found the tumor. Three months of radiation and surgery had done the job. The mass had been removed and turned out to be benign, but her hair had fallen victim. When all was said and done, Mimi was as bald as she had been as a baby. With her hair gone and her dreams of dancing professionally on hold, she had decided it was time for a change.
Against her mother’s wishes, she left Julliard, left New York, left everything she knew. It had been the right choice. She had come to Charleston, South Carolina. Luckily the mirror wasn’t the only thing she had inherited for Grandma Mimi. A sizable fortune had also come with it, allowing Mimi to purchase a floundering dance studio. It had proved to be a wise move on her part. Word of her talents and abilities had spread like wild fire. She now taught a variety of classes, from classic ballet to modern pop, six days a week. Her business flourished as she remodeled the large studio apartment above the dance studio.
It was a wonderful airy room, now that it was done. The walls were a bright, clear robin’s egg blue, while the running boards were a crisp white, a stark contrast to the dark, polished hardwood floor. The kitchen area, located toward the back of the apartment, was divided from the main living area by a line of white cabinets and black granite countertops. The bathroom, the only truly separate room in the studio, was to the right of the kitchen and also done in a monochromatic color scheme. The only art on the walls were Mimi’s collection of silhouettes and a framed Phantom of the Opera poster. Her furniture was also white, with black accents and dark woods.
But it wasn’t the kitchen or the bathroom that had caught Mimi’s eye in the mirror. Both rooms were spotless and in perfect order. It was the washer and dryer, frontloads, standing side by side. They looked like a silver hided beast with giant black eyes watching, waiting to consume her. There was no more putting it off. Six months of upheaval, healing, moving, had all come down to this…Her great white whale. The laundry.
Glancing at her reflection again, she caught sight of her tap shoes peeking out from beneath the edge of the couch. It was time to put this to the test, to see if the rumbled observations were true. If she had to do the laundry, she might as well give it all she had. With the practiced ease of a dancer born, she pulled on the tap shoes and slid into an effortless twirl that sent the gauzy skirts of her embroidered cotton sundress flaring. Her gaze was now firmly fixed on the four large dark wicker baskets that held her dirty laundry.
Preternaturally gifted, is the phrase one of her instructors once used to describe her dancing. As though, she could make anyone, anything, move with her, follow her lead. It had become more and more noticeable since the surgery, almost as if they had activated some secret part of her brain. Music was a part of her, everywhere she went, if not her own iPod, it was random radios that would suddenly turn on, playing the song she had running through her head. She was ready to test her theory.
Setting a steady beat with the metal tip of her tap shoe, Mimi willed her iPod to switch from Stuck in the Middle to Summer of ’69. The opening bars of the song filled the room and her head. A half wild smile spread across her face as she looked into the mirror again. Her reflection made her laugh. “Time for a little air guitar solo.” She said to her mirror twin, with her eyes fixed on the hampers. Air guitar was one instrument she was a prodigy with.
Her fingers strummed the stings of her airy six string, as she began to sing, knowing the words by heart. She sang out loud and clear and true, her voice pitch perfect and angel bright. The lids of the laundry baskets began to shiver and shake. Mimi glanced in the mirror again. Perfect. Refrain. Bridge. Second verse. A little more volume. A shirt popped out of the hamper, followed by two pairs of jeans, and a trio of dresses. Three more tops and a skirt joined the dancing laundry. The tops, the jeans, and skirt paired off. One playing backup guitar, one on bass, one on drums, and the skirt combo on keyboard. The dresses were backup singers. Mimi grinned and let the music take over.
The laundry played Summer of ’69 through twice, before she struggled to catch her breath, knowing there was still a lot to be done. Sorting. The iPod switched again, this time back to Stuck in the Middle. She laid aside the air guitar, letting her laundry band take over, as she sang. “Lights to the left of me, darks to the right…Here I am. Stuck in the middle with you. Lights to the left of me, darks to the right…Here I am. Stuck in the middle with you.” The laundry followed her orders. Lights sorted to the left, darks to the right, and whites with nowhere else to go, plopped down right in front of her.
She looked at her laundry band, still jamming, and raised and graceful dark brow. “That means you, too.” The formless musicians danced into their appropriate piles. The skirt and dresses added a few extra spins, twists, and flares before deflating into the heaps. Once more the iPod changed its song. The selection was a little unexpected, but the beat catchy and a little dark, a bubble gum pop song, Razorblade Limeade. At first she just listened to the piece, letting it flow over her like a wave, her chore halfway done. The laundry was sorted.
The iPod began the song again. As the opening bars echoed in her ears, she raised her head, her toe tapping, her voice flowing. Her dark brown eyes locked onto the washer. She grasped the melody and let her heart go. Her steps were grace incarnate as she whirled and spun across the clean, hard floor of the studio, the piled of darks, mimicking her every move. Skirts flared and swirled in a myriad of jewel tones. Tops and blouses soared like gulls upon a freshening sea breeze. Jeans and trousers traced her every footstep, leap, and tap. Buffy and Spike would have been proud had they seen it.
Mimi’s voice sang out, proud and strong, emotion rolling over her as she gave herself over to the power of the melody. It was no wonder her modern pop dance class was the most popular. It was like a drug. Once it caught hold, you could just go and go. Twirl, tap, tap, spin, leap, slide. Repeat. The load of darks followed like a gaggle of goslings. The washing machine loomed before them, a great silver monster in need of feeding. Mimi slide the last two feet to the appliance and pulled the door open. The laundry was tight on her trail. The song swelled as she leapt onto of the machine, still singing.
A couple of light tops were providing backup vocals as Mimi danced, atop the washer, drawing the flying, dancing darks into the washer. The bottle of Tide bopped the cabinet door open and flew toward Mimi, like a long lost love as the song reached its climax. All the jeans, trousers, and tops had made it into the washer by this time, the dresses and skirts, were still whirling. Mimi cast a speaking glance in their direction and executed a fancy step onto of the machine, her tap shoes echoing above the music. The dresses and the floaty skirts finally heeded her direction.
With the last of the garments in the washer, Mimi and the Tide began their solo dance. Broadway was missing a magnificent show as Mimi and the Tide went round and round, as well matched as any dancers ever paired. Soap in, cycle selected…Mimi hit the Start button, with a sharp well placed step, her tap shoes ringing.
09-01-2011 10:34 PM
As the washer gushed to life, Mimi grabbed the Tide, climbed down off the machine, and drew a deep breath. Leaning against the dryer she began to laugh. They were right. She did have a gift. It was a little freaky, but it was still a gift. She looked at her reflection again and the piles of laundry. She was a modern Pied Piper. There were still more chores to be done, while she waited for the washer to finish. Emptying the dishwasher was next on the list.
She looked at the iPod. It answered her call. The last notes of Razorblade Limeade faded and the blue grassy voice of a banjo took up the quiet. Dierks Bentley’s Up On the Ridge opened full throttle. It wasn’t air guitar, Mimi picked up this time, but the invisible fiddle. Tucking her chin and picking up an imaginary bow, she grinned devilishly. Even when the Devil Went Down to Georgia and challenged Johnny…They were no match for Mimi and her unseen fiddle. The tap shoes led the way as she began to play.
Twisting through a fancy, twirling two step, she flicked her head and the dishwasher door popped open and dropped down. She switched from fiddle to banjo, her fingers flying, shoes clicking. The dishes began to clink and the silverware clattered. The song played through once and began to repeat, Mimi pickin’ at her air banjo the entire time. On the second repeat she began to sing, two stepping with no one, at least until the lower rack pulled out and the pots joined her. Round and round the kitchen area they went, Mimi, the pots and the skillet. Up On the Ridge merged into Long Haired Country Boy.
With one last spin, the two step ended and a line dance began as Mimi, continued to strum and sing, with her iPod. The pots and skillet were joined by the plates, bowls, and glasses. Tap. Click. Tap. Click. Clink. Click. Clink. Tap. Stomp. Repeat. The song looped once more as the cabinets popped open, awaiting the clean, dancing dishes. The Battle of New Orleans began and with each verse, and the steady tattoo of the tap shoes, iPod, and banjo, the dishes marched to their respective homes. One final pass down the line and even the skillet was put away.
09-01-2011 11:06 PM - edited 09-01-2011 11:13 PM
With the dishes neatly stowed away, Mimi twirled out of the kitchen, her skirts flying. The iPod switched its song as the washer buzzed. The darks were done. My Name is Trouble strolled over the speakers, the bass doing a funky bit of boogie. Mimi knew this song like the back of her hand. Doing a little sliding, saunter she headed back for the washer, popping the door of the appliance open as she boogied on over to the dryer. Hangers shuffled out of her closet and followed her across the room, mirroring her rolling, fluid steps.
Mimi shimmed and slid, with a little hint of the disco beat, her voice smoky and smooth. The pile of lights followed Mimi and the hangers, as the hangers and the line dry darks pair off. Loop, loop and into the air. Dress and a hanger, a single fluid pair. Bop. Shimmy. Bop. Bop. Shimmy. Shake. All the line dries were now neatly paired with their hangers and sauntering toward the bathroom and the shower rod, while the lights shimmed into the washer. The last of the darks disappeared into the dryer. Razorblade Limeade began a reprise as the Tide flew into her arms.
Power ballad bubblegum pop. Mimi’s feet were as she spun around with her Tide. The music had a hold on her and she could no more deny its pull than she could deny breathing. She grinned, a smile that reached from ear to ear as she danced. Round and round and two step, shimmy, slide, bounce, leap and back again. Pop the detergent draw open. Pour. Snap. Tap. Tap. Bop. Bop. Washer and dryer, both running. She set the bottle of Tide down with a thump. Now all that remained was a single pile of whites.
09-01-2011 11:49 PM - edited 09-02-2011 12:30 AM
With her chores well underway, Mimi flopped down onto the couch and hit the remote. The flat-screen flashed to life. The iPod clicked off. Walk Through the Fire rippled through the air. She knew the words to this song better than almost any other. They describe her life as it currently was. Her abilities, her gifts, when she slowed down long enough to think about it were hollow. Cold. Always, she was spinning like a top, going too fast for anyone to really see. She did her job and did it well, but it wasn’t enough. There was a hole, where she should be whole and it had nothing to do with the tumor.
Leaving New York had been the right choice, she knew, but she hadn’t left with a completely clear conscience. There was one, who she had walked away from. One who had refused to say goodbye. The one who had been her light through everything. Like a bright summer sun swallowed by a thunderhead, Greg had stormed out of her life, taking his light and vital warmth with him. He was her Phantom, haunting her dreams and spinning songs as she slept. The Blu-ray player murmured as Buffy clicked off and the disk changer shifted. Mimi drifted off to sleep.
Once more, her emotions were speaking through the music. The opening credits of Phantom of the Opera seeped into her soul, her bones. “He’s there. The Phantom of the Opera…” She sang as the overture play and repeated and played and repeated. The lush scenes flashed on the screen. There was no one here, who had seen behind her mask, yet. “And do I dream again? For now I find the Phantom of the Opera is there…Inside my mind”.
As she sang, eyes fixed on the screen, her feet dangling over the arm of the sofa, Mimi’s laundry followed her unspoken cues. The dryer buzzed. Draws popped open and the closet doors slid back, patiently awaiting the clean, dancing clothes. Like the players of the musical, the clothes whirled, twirled, waltzed, floated and folded themselves away. Hangers flew out, catching hold of the newly washed lights and whisked them into the bathroom, where they joined the other items dangling from the shower rod.
The load of whites began a dance all their own, drifting toward the washer in a downy cloud of cotton, satin, and silk. The washer door opened, reaching out, beckoning for the final load. The whites hesitated…The dryer door also opened, between the doors, the garments were embraced, beloved. Into the maw of the washer flew the whites and into the dark went the lights. With a thump and a bang, the Tide was added. Bop. Bop. Whirl. Another load, another cycle was begun.
09-02-2011 12:26 AM - edited 09-02-2011 12:30 AM
“In sleep he sang to me. In dreams he came. That voice which calls to me and speaks my name…” But there was only silence as Mimi awoke with a start. The flat-screen was off and the room swathed in shadows. All the laundry had disappeared, completely done. She cast a quick glance at her closet. The door was ajar, caught on something. The iPod clicked on as she rolled to her feet.
Moonlight streamed through the floor to ceiling windows on the south wall, casting a misty silvery glow over everything. Once again, Mimi caught sight of her reflection in her grandmother’s looking glass. A reed slender figure clad in the gauzy, floating sundress with her winsome features limed in argent light, she looked like some woodland wayfarer. Her shoes clicked against the polished boards, the sound sharp, almost militant, at odds with the amorphous atmosphere that encompassed her. I Don’t Want be a Bride whispered in her ear. The name of the album made her smile. Rabbits On the Run.
Vanessa Carlton’s smoky grey voice flowed into the room. Mimi, hummed along, her mind adrift, her emotions tangled. Click. Tap. Click. Tap. Click. Tap. The shoes spoke as she walked over to closet to see what the door had caught on. The cool touch of Italian leather greeted her fingers. The scent of balsam fir and sandalwood, fading with age, tickled her nose. Mimi pulled the jacket free of its hanger, clutching it to her chest. Greg. Tears prickled and emotion swelled. Click. Tap. Click. Tap.
Mimi looked down at the intrusive shoes and kicked them off. The song began again. This time, Mimi let the music lead the way. A languid slow dance. Round and round, up and down the room, her cheek pressed against the jacket, her tears now falling freely. “Please say yes…” His voice echoed in her head. “Please say yes, Mimi.” Another turn, another step. Her bare feet soundless on the moonlit floor. “Please say yes, Mimi.”
The scent of fir and sandalwood seemed stronger as she danced, her cheek buried in the jacket, Greg’s unanswered question echoing in her ears. “Please say yes, Mimi.” She had never replied, until now. “Yes.”
“Finally.” Mimi dropped the jacket. It slid to the floor in a sibilant rush as a pair of familiar arms gathered her close and pressed kiss on her spiky bedhead. Greg held her tight, leading her through the dance. He chuckled at the words of the song. “Just because the song says you don’t want to be a bride, doesn’t mean I’m going to let you go again. Remember you did say yes.”
09-02-2011 09:50 AM
Darkkin, the Mad Hatter would be very proud of you. This piece is marvelously different. "With the mirror's reflection and a record collection..." - Billy Idol